Dean of Students focused on keeping students safe, providing services

Shane Williamson works at her desk in the Spellmann Center.  Photo by Lindsey Fiala

Shane Williamson works at her desk in the Spellmann Center.
Photo by Lindsey Fiala

Kelby Lorenz | Editor-in-Chief
From Print [Sept. 20, 2016] | Legacy

While studying at her Catholic high school, a nun guidance counselor told Shane Williamson that it was in God’s plan for her to pursue marketing.

“Honest to goodness, she had me read this book about marketing,” Williamson said. “She said that’s what God had in place for me. And how can you tell a nun or God no?”

After completing her undergraduate degree in marketing at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, Williamson pursued a master’s degree in college student personnel and counseling. Then she gained her doctoral degree in education at Rutgers University.

Shane Williamson works at her desk in the Spellmann Center.  Photo by Lindsey Fiala
Shane Williamson works at her desk in the Spellmann Center.
Photo by Lindsey Fiala

Now Williamson is the Dean of Students for Lindenwood, a title she has held since January.

While the position deals with student conduct for the St. Charles campus and extension center, it’s also about forming communities, Williamson said.

“The conduct part is about keeping people safe, and the community piece is what services, programs and support we can provide our students,” she said.

When Williamson took over the position, she set out to provide more efficient and effective services at Lindenwood.

One of the first tasks that she handled was working with Ryan Guffey, vice president of student development, to make Evans Commons more student-service oriented by bringing the counseling center, the wellness center and the residential life office into one area.

In addition, Williamson helped to increase overall staff numbers, such as the coordinator position in Student Involvement and more full-time mailroom workers.
Guffey said that he has known Williamson since she first arrived as the dean of First Year programs.

“We spent a lot of time thinking about providing more student experiences in Evans,” Guffey said. “It’s a big departure from last year.”

Guffey also said that Williamson is “student-oriented, and thinks very much about what is the best we can provide for students.”

“She’s warm-hearted, decisive and outcome-oriented,” he said. “She’s about seeing results. It’s the difference between someone who wants to be on the project [just] to be on the project and someone who wants to see it through,”

While she said that she loved working with freshmen, moving into her current position was a professional development opportunity that allowed her to take on more responsibility and experience in different aspects of how the university operates as a whole.

In addition to her duties as the Dean of Students, Williamson teaches online classes for the master’s and doctoral programs of higher education and has an 8-year-old son Kennedy. Williamson says that her workload is full, but she still meets deadlines with strong time-management skills.

“My Outlook calendar is my life,” she said. “Everything is in there. Even if I need to set time aside for a project, I block it out.”

While the calendar doesn’t always work due to incidents on campus, Williamson also learned that blocking out two hours every night to get work done helps. Yet, attending her son’s many activities is always one of her top priorities.

“I always consider myself a mother first, because that is the reason for my existence,” Williamson said. “So being able to support him at games is always great.”

Before becoming the Dean of Students, Williamson also taught several of the freshman experience courses at Lindenwood.

Lindenwood senior Haley Booker, one of Williamson’s previous students, said she remembers Williamson for a variety of reasons.

“She was one of the first professors that I had, and it was obvious that she was passionate about her job,” Booker said. “She took the time and effort to get to know each freshman in the LUL class. You could tell that she cared about us and wanted to help make our college experience at Lindenwood the best it could be.”

Outside of her work, Williamson is on the board of directors of the YMCA in O’Fallon, Missouri.

She also likes to work out. She enjoys teaching zumba at Lindenwood, which allows her to meet new students.

“It’s great because I get to meet and network with students in a different environment than the classroom,” she said.

Throughout her work in higher education, Williamson has learned various skills and valuable lessons that have proven useful to get her where she is now.

“I definitely advise people to do a practicum or job-shadowing experience to see if that is really what you have an interest in doing,” Williamson said. “Make sure your résumé is always up to par, and review your social media sites now.”

Sitting behind her desk, Williamson smiled and added, “It always helps to have a positive attitude.”